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"This film is entirely fictional" states the film in the very beginning, lingering purposefully on the faces of bawling drunk Americans wandering the nightly streets, some harassed by, others looking for company. You don't really have to know Imamura at all to recognize the delicious irony. The beginning is so full of impressions, smells and life only Welles' "Touch of Evil" (1958) bests this in how in just a few minutes we're completely in the place and breathe its air. The sweaty chaos of the close-leaning alleys, kisses beneath stairs.
Welles is also echoed in the beautifully fluent tracking shots. It's interesting to read Imamura's statements made during the sixties and later, when he recalls Ozu's intention of a highly aestheticized cinema, and his own, more anthropological, perhaps more real. These kinds of comments distracted me for a long time I wasn't expecting visually strong films, which Imamura's are, neither was I prepared to see so many fresh ideas, of which there are many.
I'm not completely satisfied with the ending, but I'll have to wait and see whether it'll grow on me. It is, on one hand, a successful melange of both the sadistic and ironic, but on the other it brings the film to a close perhaps too neatly. Not that I have any idea as to how to make it better, but it's too much of a showdown, and although Imamura plays it to great comic effect with a tragic undersong, it's a bit too excessive to my liking.
The Criterion Collection has released this on DVD (Region 1) as part of the 'Pigs, Pimps & Prostitutes' boxset that also includes "Akasen satsui" ('Intentions of Murder', 1963) and "Nippin konchûki" ('The Insect Woman', 1963). Masters of Cinema have released this on a Region B Blu- ray that also includes an early Imamura film, his debut actually, "Nusumareta yokujô" ('Stolen Desire', 1958).
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